A Boy's Life FADE IN: 1 INT. MAX’S BEDROOM - NIGHT 1 SCRATCH. SCRATCH. SCRATCH. Like a bolt of lightning, 8-year-old MAX’s eye-lids flick open followed by a quick, but deep, intake of breath. He places a pair of dark-framed glasses on his face, then scans his eerily dark bedroom. Through the broken shadows, we’re just able to make out objects lit from the dim moonlight. The entire room is flooded with nameless shapes. A chair. Several stuffed animals. A shelf with a broken model airplane perched on the edge. Max clutches onto a pair of metallic military DOG TAGS around his neck. We hear a GUSH of wind, HOWLING through the seeps of the window cracks. A branch from the leafless oak tree SCRATCHES the window pane. A wide-eyed Max jumps out of his bed and races out of the room. 2 INT. LORAINE’S BEDROOM - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS 2 A middle-aged woman, LORAINE, props her head up from her pillow. She notices Max hurriedly crawling onto her bed, tucking himself into the vacant spot next to her. She’s exhausted. She looks at the clock on her night-stand: 2:17 a.m. turns to face her child - both lying on their sides. their ears pushed against the pillow. She Each of LORAINE (under her breath) Max, you can’t keep doing this. Max lies silent. A beat. LORAINE (CONT’D) There’s nothing to be scared of. Go back to bed. Max shakes his head. Silence. CUT TO: 2. 3 INT. MAX’S BEDROOM - NIGHT - CONTINUOUS 3 Loraine follows a reluctant Max through the door and Max hops in the middle of the bed; propped upright. She walks to the closet, creaks it open, and peeks inside. She pushes the door open wide, revealing nothing but clothes. LORAINE (groggy) Empty. She kneels down and peers under the bed. She pulls herself up, pretending to be frightened - then cracks a smile. LORAINE (CONT’D) Messy, but no monster. MAX He ate my slipper. LORAINE Monsters don’t eat slippers. Under. She lifts the comforter for Max to get underneath. The wind picks up. He does. MAX What about the noise? LORAINE Baby, that’s just the wind. The entire house has been sprayed and inspected for anything bad, I promise. MAX What happens when you throw water on them? LORAINE (passive w/ love) Monsters hate water. Max grasps the dog tags and pushes them against his chest. LORAINE (CONT’D) (re: Dog Tags) What’d I say about playing with those? Not to. MAX 3. LORAINE (palms upward) Give ‘em. Max pulls them off and hands them to his mother. She pulls a FLASHLIGHT out of the night-stand drawer. LORAINE (CONT’D) (placing it on the table) I’m putting this right here. Still unsure, Max pulls the covers close to his chin. She takes his glasses off and places them on the night-stand. LORAINE (CONT’D) Just close your eyes, think happy thoughts, and when you wake up it’ll be morning. After a beat, she tucks him in securely, kisses his forehead, and exits his room - closing the door behind her. MAX Don’t shut the door. She leaves it open just a crack. Max, still weary of the situation, clutches his pillow... hoping for the morning to come quickly. FADE TO BLACK. 4 EXT. LORAINE’S HOUSE - MORNING - ESTABLISHING 4 The ALARM rings. 5 INT. LORAINE’S BEDROOM - MORNING - CONTINUOUS 5 The early morning sunshine beams through the window. Loraine SLAMS her hand on the radio clock - shutting off the alarm. She throws the covers aside, pulls herself upright, then notices Max sleeping on the floor - tucked in a sleeping bag. She rubs her eyes; slightly frustrated... worried. 6 INT. LORAINE’S HOUSE - GUEST ROOM - LATER THAT DAY The light turns on. An unbalanced Loraine barrels through the room, a laundry basket under her arm. She attempts to place a pile of towels on the dresser. 6 4. A shelf of military MEMORABILIA catches her attention. An air of SILENCE fills the room (and her lungs). Tears glaze her eyes. A moment. SOMETHING on the shelf is out of order - a detail only apparent to the most meticulous of people. Loraine notices. Where is it?! Of course. 7 INT. LORAINE’S HOUSE - DEN - CONTINUOUS 7 Max is pushed against the windowsill. Several crayons strewn across the floor. He’s coloring on a pad of paper; halfheartily. The DOG TAGS dangle loosely from his neck. Max places his pad down and peers outside. Several neighborhood BOYS are playing games and laughing in the street. Max! LORAINE (O.S.) Loraine enters. LORAINE (CONT’D) Were you playing in the guest room again? No. Really? neck? MAX LORAINE Then what’s around your MAX I’m not playing with them. LORAINE Damn it, Max, that’s not the point. Max instantly takes off his DOG TAGS and places them on the floor - he continues to draw. The boys’ laughter from outside is HEARD. Loraine notices. LORAINE (CONT’D) Why don’t you go outside for awhile? The fresh air will do you good. Max doesn’t respond, just clutches onto his crayon and resumes drawing. Loraine’s frustration subsides. 5. LORAINE (CONT’D) Mrs. Lieberman called this morning. Says you’re telling stories again. Max doesn’t turn around, but stays transfixed to his drawing. LORAINE (CONT’D) Max, please look at me. Max looks up from his drawing. LORAINE (CONT’D) You’re giving Scottie Michaels nightmares again. MAX He’s scared of everything. He doesn’t play in the sand ‘cause he thinks the worms will eat him. LORAINE Doesn’t make it any less scary. He’s still afraid... like you are at night. MAX It’s not the same. It’s not? No response. A beat. LORAINE How’s it like? Max lightly traces the paper with his crayons. Max? LORAINE (CONT’D) He doesn’t budge. LORAINE (CONT’D) (slightly strict) Max, can you please put that down? Max sets the pad and crayon down on the floor. Loraine takes a beat, then moves to the chair right next to her son. LorAINE (CONT’D) You know, when you were still in diapers, your father was stationed for about a year in North Carolina. -- And we lived in this 100-yearold cabin about 7 miles outside the main town. (MORE) 6. LorAINE (CONT’D) You should’ve seen this place, it was very different from anything I knew -- it had cracks in the ceiling, a cobblestone fireplace and one of those... ah... what are they called? Out houses. A pause. Waiting for an inkling of reaction. LoraINE (CONT’D) And one really windy night, while your dad was on duty, I put you down to sleep, and heard these noises coming from outside the house. And I got a little scared. Max turns, wide-eyed. I double-checked that all the doors were locked and then I called your dad, but he didn’t pick up. So I lied in bed, tried closing my eyes... but I couldn’t fall asleep. I got up, looked out the window and only saw darkness... I remember my heart was beating so fast and my palms were really sweaty... Max is fully engaged in the story. You could actually see my hand prints on the window pane. And I didn’t know what it could be, maybe it was just the neighbor getting some fire wood? But then my imagination went wild. Maybe someone was trying to break in, or maybe it was a bear, or Big Foot... I didn’t know... And as the noises continued, I became more certain something was there. It wasn’t just the wind. Max rises to his knees. LORAINE (CONT’D) I knew I had to stand my ground, because that’s what your father would’ve done if he was home. So I put my slippers on, grabbed a flashlight and stepped outside. I looked around the front porch for something to grab... A stick or something... (MORE) 7. LORAINE (CONT’D) then I saw one of those old wooden nets, like the ones used to catch butterflies with, I picked it up then walked down the steps. You did? Max LoraINE I did! I don’t know what I was thinking, using a net for protection, but I was just in the moment. At first, I wanted to run back inside and hide under the covers, but I knew I needed to protect you. So I walked, outside, passed these huge oak trees - nothing but the moonlight shining down on me. My heart was pounding and to be honest, I started feeling sick to my stomach, but I just kept walking towards whatever it was. I tip-toed slowly towards the noise -- leaves crunching under my feet -- and suddenly saw two red eyes staring back at me. I pointed the flashlight right at it and you know what I saw? * Max shook his head with strikingly wide eyes. A raccoon. LoRAINE (CONT’D) Max There was no monster? Loraine Nope. Just a raccoon playing with some old milk containers. * A beat. Max briefly contemplates - letting it sink in. After taking a breath, he rises from the floor and exits the room. After a moment, Loraine turns the pad over to reveal a largerthan-life, crayon-drawn monster. Big white teeth, large red eyes, and eerily dark scales. CUT TO: 8. 8 INT. MAX’S BEDROOM - LATER THAT DAY Max pushes the door forward. brightly-lit bedroom. 8 It creaks open to reveal a He walks in, assessing the situation. He retrieves a plastic military HELMET from his dresser and places it on his head. It’s not very scary in the day time. He opens his desk drawer pulling out thick yarn, scissors, and scotch tape. BEGIN MONTAGE: 9 INT. LAUNDRY ROOM - CONTINUOUS 9 Max pulls out clean clothes from a wooden laundry basket and dumps it on the floor. Then drags the basket out of frame. 10 INT. KITCHEN PANTRY - CONTINUOUS 10 He pushes aside a large bag of KITTY LITTER, revealing several MOUSE TRAPS - one with a dead mouse caught in the metal snap. He carefully slides the traps towards him, attempting not to detonate them. 11 INT. MAX’S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS 11 Max ties a piece of yarn on the back of his remote control race car. He turns it on -- it works properly. Loraine passes his bedroom, inconspicuously glancing inside. The look etched upon her face contains an air of confused relief... her son’s finally acting like a boy again. After a beat, she continues about her day. 12 INT. KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS 12 He clutches onto the sink, attempting to fill a pitcher with water. He’s far too short for the counter-top. 13 INT. MAX’S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS Max pulls long strands of yarn, threads it through a hook that’s attached to the wall, and ties it to the laundry basket. It lifts up and down like a trap. 13 9. INSERT: We notice a framed picture on the wall near the nightstand. A much younger Max, his mother, and a man we haven’t seen before. He’s wearing a Marine Corps uniform -- his father. 14 INT. HALLWAY - OUTSIDE MAX’S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS 14 We pull backwards -- slowly away from a creaked door, an imaginative boy, and a plan... END MONTAGE: 15 INT. FAMILY ROOM - NIGHT 15 The sun has fallen, the window shades have been closed shut, and Loraine finishes cleaning the kitchen. Dressed in his pajamas, Max lays on his stomach and watches television - much too close. He rests his chin on his hands and pushes his glasses against his face. Loraine walks in and shuts off the television set. LORAINE Time for bed. Max looks up; preparing for this moment. 16 INT. MAX’S BEDROOM - NIGHT 16 Loraine tucks Max in his comforter - snug as a bug. She pushes his hair aside, takes off his glasses, and places them on his night-stand. She glances around - noticing strings attached to the wall. LORAINE You’ve had a busy day. Max gives a hint of a smile. Though, nerves still shine through. LORAINE (CONT’D) Everything’s gonna be alright, okay? Now get some sleep. He nods hesitantly. She smiles, and kisses him on his forehead. Before exiting, she dodges the hanging laundry basket, and remembers to leave the door open a crack. 10. Max grabs his flashlight and presses it against his chest. He reaches under his pillow and retrieves the DOG TAGS -- yet again. He clutches them as he shuts his eyes, attempting to fall asleep. FADE TO BLACK. 17 INT. MAX’S BEDROOM - LATER THAT NIGHT 17 SCRATCH. SCRATCH. SCRATCH. The SOUND of that same branch screeches against the window. Like clockwork, Max’s eyes flick open. He jolts upright and turns the flashlight on, pointing it towards the walls. With his free hand, he attempts to snatch his glasses off the bed stand, but they fall to the floor. Before Max could retrieve them, he HEARS something near the door. Pointing his flashlight, he follows a quick creaking SOUND -moving beneath the opposite side of his bed. Wide-eyed, he takes a deep breath and moves above the covers. Waiting for some sign of movement, he suddenly hears a SNAP! One of the mouse traps has gone off! Max looks towards the door - should I make a run for it? Instead, he shines his flashlight to the floor. He scoots towards the edge of the bed and slowly lowers himself from the mattress. His head falls towards the floor as he gets an upside down view of beneath his bed. It’s too blurry to see anything. It appears that the mouse traps have triggered, but are empty. SCRATCH. The WIND picks up. Another CREAK is heard near the bedroom door as he points the flashlight in that direction. Nothing. He grabs his remote control. Turns it on. Then pushes the knob forward. The race car accelerates forward - the rubber tires gliding across the wooden floor. The string attached to the race car yanks the water-filled pitcher that’s hanging from the ceiling. The pitcher tips and water gushes onto the floor. CREAK! Something afraid of water rushes across the room, causing Max to fall backwards onto his bed. He instantly crawls backwards and pushes himself against the head board. Max’s breath is heavy, his eyes brimming with tears. 11. Go away! MAX He remembers the homemade trap he concocted - the laundry basket hanging from the ceiling by a strand of yarn. Max snatches the pair of scissors from his night-stand and cuts the string. The basket falls, trapping something underneath. SILENCE. Max slowly crawls towards the edge of the bed, putting the laundry basket in full view. The wind has died down. Then, as soon as he reaches the foot of the bed... ... the basket JOLTS an inch toward him! Mom!!! MAX (CONT’D) Max jumps off his bed -- slipping on the puddle of water. The DOG TAGS detach from around his neck and slide near the basket. Instead of bolting out of the room, Max is focused on retrieving the DOG TAGS. He slowly scoots towards the TAGS. We can’t quite make out what’s underneath. Max reaches his arm as far as he can - but can’t quite get there. Just as Max is about to grab the tags, the basket SHAKES! He picks himself up, bolts out of his room, and runs towards his mom’s bedroom. 18 INT. LORAINE’S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS Max races in and wakes up Loraine. MAX (out of breath) Mom, wake up! I caught it! Loraine lifts herself up, suddenly wide awake. LORAINE What’s wrong?? Hurry! MAX He pulls his mother by the arm. 18 12. 19 INT. MAX’S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS 19 Upon entering the bedroom, we notice the basket has stopped shaking. In fact, there’s an air of SILENCE. MAX (pointing at the basket) It’s under there! LORAINE Why’s the floor wet? Mom! MAX LORAINE (lifts up the basket) I’m tired of this. Stop it, Max! There’s no monster! MAX Yes there is!! Loraine observes... the DOG TAGS. Loraine goes silent - a beat. She picks them up. MAX (CONT’D) Something was here, I swear!! Max is near tears. He scans the floor -- retrieves his glasses -- the need for proof overshadows his fear. MAX (CONT’D) (to himself - desperate) Where’d you go? Loraine glances around at the circus constructed around her. She watches her son - a sense of recognition; an epiphany. She stops her son, looks directly at him, then places him on the bed. All her frustration subsides as she really looks at Max. She wipes his bangs away from his face. A beat. LORAINE It’s about time we find this monster. Loraine puts the DOG TAGS around her son’s neck, then places the plastic military HELMET on his head. Then grabs the flashlight from on top of the mattress. She clicks it on, then quickly switches the bedroom light off. 13. Darkness. Except for the fluorescent light beaming from the flashlight. The moon’s glow glimmers off their faces. LORAINE (CONT’D) Monster, we’re coming for you! (to Max) Did you hear that? MAX What? Quick. LORAINE This way. Loraine pulls her son towards the corner of the room. Here. LORAINE (CONT’D) Take this. She gives Max a plastic RIFLE. LORAINE (CONT’D) You go near the night stand. I’m gonna investigate near the toy box. We’ll meet by your pillow at 2200 hours. What? MAX LORAINE Thirty seconds. Max nods. Go! LORAINE (CONT’D) Loraine rolls on the ground like a soldier in combat, then points the flash light towards the corner of the room. Max follows her lead. MAX Do you see anything? LORAINE A few casualties. I think Tommy the T-Rex is wounded. Save him! Copy! MAX LORAINE 14. Like a professional, Loraine provides medical attention to Tommy the T-Rex. Max pushes himself up against the wall -right underneath the photo for his father. You can cut the tension with a toy knife. He looks around -- breathing heavily. LORAINE (O.C.) (CONT’D) Quick, under the bed! The monster’s under the bed! Max falls to the ground and begins shooting his fake gun underneath his bed. Wild fire! The red flash from the toy gun bounces off the wooden floor. They both pull themselves above the bed. Heaving for breath. MAX You see anything? Did I get him? LORAINE I think you did. A sense of accomplishment falls between them. A beat. Max smiles - a new reaction for us. Loraine smiles back -they’ve won the same battle. After a sincere moment... LORAINE (CONT’D) Time for sleep now. After a pause, Max NODS. 20 INT. MAX’S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER 20 As she tucks him in, and wipes his hair to the side, she gives Max a kiss on the cheek. ... An ending to a trying and exhausting night. The moonlight still pours through the window. The branch from the leafless oak tree still SCRATCHES the window pane. Nameless shadows still flood the dark bedroom. different air now fills the room. Loraine smiles, then rises. finally on the same page. However, a Content that she and her son are As she’s walking towards the door... 15. SCRATCH. Loraine hears something CRAWL across the floor. Before she could fully react... LORAINE’S SUDDENLY GRABBED BY THE ANKLES AND IS PULLED TO THE GROUND! SHE LETS A BLOOD-CURDLING SCREAM POUR OUT AS SHE’S PULLED UNDERNEATH THE BED!! POV from underneath the bed -- Max’s legs running out of the bedroom as he let’s out a HORRIFYING SCREAM. CUT TO BLACK: An ironic, upbeat TUNE plays through the credits.